National Parks

The Leonard Lopate Show

Fighting for the Ecological Heart of the Eastern Congo

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A new documentary follows a team of park rangers---and the endangered gorillas ---as they face off against poachers, militia, and industry in one of the most diverse ecosystems.

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Utah Symphony Barnstorms Five National Parks

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Utah Symphony is using classical music to complement the beauty of Utah's soaring red rocks and canyons with free desert performances.

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The Takeaway

National Parks Enter the Digital Age—For Better or For Worse

Monday, November 18, 2013

Park managers across America are grappling with the question of how much technology to integrate into national parks. They’re considering everything from coded signs that park-goers can scan with their smartphones to access information about the parks, to weather updates via text message. Samantha Brown is a host on the Travel Channel. She explains the possible technologies being integrated into national parks and the push back park managers are seeing as the great outdoors flirts with the digital age.

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Living in the Shadow of Lady Liberty No More

Friday, November 30, 2012

The National Park Service has a tradition. The caretaker of Lady Liberty gets to live on island with her.  But because of Sandy, the current superintendent of the Statue of Liberty National Park may be the last to follow the tradition.

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Statue of Liberty Remains Shuttered After Sandy

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Liberty Island, home to the Statue of Liberty, suffered significant damage during Sandy.


Transportation Nation

Beaver Family Out-Engineers Humans, Repeatedly Floods Road, Stays Cute (PICS)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A busy beaver family has flooded out a Wyoming road and stymied multiple efforts to gently bust their dam. (Photo by Sue Consolo-Murphy, GTNP)

(Grand Teton National Park , WY– YPR) – Human engineers faced off against nature’s engineers in an effort to save a scenic road in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park (GTNP).

“Beavers have been called the civil engineers of the natural world because they are prone to making these very extensive dams,” says park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs.

One extensive dam and lodge flooded a portion of the scenic Moose-Wilson Road in GTNP. As a result park staff placed a system of perforated pipes in the pond in early August to gently flow water through the dam and lower the water level.

The GTNP beaver family. © 2012 Jackie Gilmore, all rights reserved

“We were concerned that we were going to lose the road all together,” says Skaggs.

The beavers had other ideas.

Nature photographer Jackie Gilmore of Jackson Hole, WY says within hours of the park’s mitigation work the beavers began to plug up all of the holes in the pipe with mud.

“The term ‘busy as a beaver’ was really obvious,” Gilmore says. The adults in this family of nine beavers quickly got to work, “going back and forth doing all this work,” she details. Within a few hours she says the water level began to rise again in the beaver pond.

So GTNP officials went back to the drawing board.

This time they installed a bigger bundle of longer pipes. Skaggs says they are 30 feet long. She says the system was designed to gently divert the water through the dam and further downstream.

GTNP crews preparing to lift a bundle of pipes to allow some water to flow past the beaver dam and lodge and downstream. Photo by Jackie Skaggs, GTNP.

Given the ingenuity of the beavers, however, park crews took steps to protect their work. There’s a wire cage at the front to keep the beavers from plugging up the pipes with sticks and mud. Posts also hold the pipes in place. Skaggs says beavers have been known to raise such pipes, rendering them ineffective.

View of the cage that is protecting the network of diversion pipes in front of the beaver dam in GTNP. Photo by Jackie Skaggs, GTNP

She says signs will be put up at the beaver pond to explain how this system works. “We’re trying to find that nice balance to protect the park road but also protect the beavers, our number one priority.”

The GTNP beaver pond. Photo by Jackie Skaggs, GTNP.

Gilmore, who’s been a nature photographer since 1978 in Jackson Hole, praises park officials for protecting the beaver’s habitat. She’s been watching this beaver family up close all summer. She says many times a crowd would gather.

“Everyone was able to see what they look like, how they acted, and there were points where you could actually see their large incisor teeth they use to cut off the branches,” she says.  “And if everybody was quite quiet and respectful you could hear them chewing and every once in a while they would make this humming sound. It was just an amazing experience,” she says.

Skaggs says the Moose-Wilson Road is a destination for Grand Teton National Park visitors because of the abundance of wildlife, including moose and a great grey owl.

She says because of that there have been conflicts between wildlife and people. So this beaver battle has drawn new attention to a plan to move the road. The road re-alignment is just one project in a a larger Grand Teton National Park transportation plan, signed in 2007. Skaggs says park officials are hopeful funding will allow the project to proceed in 2015.


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The Takeaway

Listeners Respond: Experiencing America's National Parks

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

We're wrapping up our series on national parks with your experiences. Listeners from all corners of the country have texted, posted, and phoned in their favorite memories of national parks.

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The Takeaway

How Our National Parks Define Us

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Everyone has their own story to share when they come back from a National Park. When collected together, these stories create a history and a culture. Documentarian Ken Burns joins us to discuss his journey to capture the spirit and tales of the National Parks.

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The Takeaway

Reconsidering our National Parks

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

While the detonation of the atomic bomb in 1945 brought about death and destruction, the labs that created this bomb remain quiet and peaceful, albeit largely unseen. A bill in Congress may make these sites national parks, upping their tourism value and ensuring their preservation.

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Transportation Nation

Bike Share to the Alamo, Santa Claus Bike/Ped Trail, and Other Transit $$

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Alamo (image courtesy of San Antonio Missions National Historic Park)

Seems to be grant day for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The feds are handing out $40.8 million for 58 projects giving better transit access to national parks.

Among the grantees are the City of San Antonio, which gets $324,000 to expand bike share to connect the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park to the Alamo.

There's also $340,000 to the town of Santa Claus, Indiana, to design a bike and pedestrian trail connecting the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, local schools, and the town of Santa Claus.

The grants are part of the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks program, which is described in a press release as "administered by the FTA in partnership with the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service, the program funds capital and planning expenses for alternative transportation systems, such as shuttle buses and bicycle trails, in national parks and public lands. The goals of the program are to conserve natural, historical and cultural resources, and reduce congestion and pollution."

For a full list of grantees, including Marin County, New York City, and Alaska, click here.

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